Sand trap “gimmie”

There are some who claim that all positions taken on complicated issues are (to them, anyway) obvious “no-brainers”. That is simply an excuse for being unwilling or unable to explain one’s own convictions, and presumptuous beyond chutzpah. It’s a public declaration of “I am right. You are wrong. Everything I proclaim a ‘no-brainer’ is incontestable on its face.” But it isn’t; instead, it’s an excuse for not using one’s head or engaging in serious debate.

For example, without substantive validation, it is reckless to opine glibly that an undefined wall (exactly where, why, how long, made of what, paid for by whom, and erected on whose property?) is the best way to keep out illegal immigrants, drugs, and criminals. This issue is NOT a “no-brainer”; on the contrary, it requires a compelling case to be made in order to support those statements, just as it must in the following examples:

One may contend that all abortions are an immoral “no-brainer”, but assigning human personhood to a zygote is hardly that…it’s complicated. In addition, while the legitimacy of criminal laws against abortion may be arguable, it is not a “no-brainer” to simply announce that the government can outlaw, justifying their position on moral grounds, what is now a constitutional right in a pluralistic society where people have different convictions about this matter. One has to make the case.

There may be reasons for why one thinks destructive global warming may be caused simply by normal cyclical changes, but it is not a “no-brainer” to cavalierly dismiss the extensive scientific climatological evidence that global warming is man-made and potentially catastrophic without so much as cracking a book on the subject. Or, after cracking the book, reject the information contained therein as bogus. One has to make the case.

It may make sense to dispute a nationwide, one-size-fits-all, mandatory increase of wages to $15 an hour, but it is not a “no-brainer” and requires an attendant, factual defense to support it; one which includes our historical experience after previous increases in the minimum wage.

One can inveigh against income re-distribution in general without fleshing out an argument to support that position, but a “no-brainer” dismissal of the fact that ALL taxes inherently re-distribute wealth is a mistaken one. Actually, to truly live out one’s belief that all re-distribution of income is illegitimate would require not paying taxes and landing in jail.

One may think it’s a “no-brainer” to declare that one’s own personal positions on a host of issues are based on immutable ethics, morality and principle, and that all who hold opposing views are not stupid or uninformed, but, rather, just bad people. Insisting that “no-brainer” solutions to complex matters are the right ones is like demanding a “gimmie” from a sand trap.

Invoking exclusively-held, so-called “common sense”, “no-brainer” opinions at every turn on every issue bypasses the need for using one’s brain. People who think like that aren’t stupid…they do, indeed, have brains. But brainwork takes effort, and those who believe that “no-brainer” answers are the right ones to issues like immigration, abortion, global warming, and income disparity are intellectually lazy. Such pronouncements are a form of argumentative bullying; the first recourse of the cognitively slothful. It’s easy and requires no work to dismiss opposing points of view, stating that their own particular issue’s solution is a “no-brainer” without explaining the reasons for such a gratuitous dismissal.

Dogmatic declarations without evidence are the purview of oracles, not commentators. As W. Edward Deming once said: “In God we trust; everybody else bring data.”

Tim Mannello


Submitted by E-Mai